Skip to content

More than $700,000 stolen from counties unrecovered

More than $700,000 stolen from counties unrecovered
County government officials across Tennessee hadn’t recovered nearly three quarters of a million dollars stolen from their coffers as of June 30, 2011.
Details about the missing money have been disclosed in the state comptroller’s recently-released annual cash shortage report.
Information about the cash shortages was compiled from the annual financial reports and special reports for the 89 Tennessee counties that are regularly audited by the Comptroller’s Division of Local Government Audit and the six counties audited by private accounting firms.
More than $213,000 in missing county funds was identified during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012. The comptroller’s report details how much money was stolen from each county and gives a description of when the thefts were discovered, how the thefts occurred, how much money has been successfully recovered and legal action taken against those responsible for the thefts.
Among the thefts listed is one from Obion County — an alleged incident at the county clerk’s office.
According to the state comptroller’s report, from Feb. 2, 2009, through Nov. 2, 2010, a deputy clerk allegedly removed cash from the office cash drawer 11 times, totaling $310, for her personal use. Each time this was discovered, the county clerk allowed the deputy to liquidate the shortage by depositing personal funds back into the cash drawer. On Nov. 3, 2010, the county clerk performed a surprise cash count on the deputy clerk’s cash drawer and determined the cash drawer was short $201. The deputy clerk was office and return with personal funds to repay the $201 cash shortage. The county clerk then requested the resignation of the deputy clerk and the deputy resigned her position Nov. 3, 2010.
On Nov. 4, 2010, the county clerk notified the comptroller’s office of the circumstances and requested the office perform a review of the deputy’s receipts compared with funds in her cash drawer. The investigation of the records confirmed that from Feb. 2, 2009, through Nov. 3, 2010, there were 12 instances, totaling $511, where the deputy clerk’s cash drawer was short. The deputy clerk had informed the county clerk she did not know how the cash shortages occurred; however, during an interview with auditors, the deputy clerk admitted to removing funds from her cash drawer for personal use.
On July 8, 2011, the former deputy clerk pled guilty to theft of property and received one year probation and 100 hours of community service, according to the comptroller’s report.
“These thefts are a reminder that local government officials need to be vigilant about the potential that taxpayer dollars can be stolen,” Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said in releasing the report. “The best safeguard against theft of public funds is the use of proper accounting and bookkeeping techniques. Quite often, county government officials believe there’s no way theft would occur within their organizations — then they are shocked when it does. As the old expression goes, ‘Trust, but verify.’” Published in The Messenger 7.3.12

Leave a Comment